ALBANY, NY – New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul spent the afternoon of March 2, 2020, encouraging tourists to visit places like Seneca Falls to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage.
Precisely a year later, she spent her afternoon closer than anyone ever to become the first female governor in New York history.
And now, as the number of Democrats calling for the resignation of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo appears to be increasing every few hours, Hochul may soon become the second recent lieutenant governor to take on the state’s most senior post. due to a holder’s sexual misdeeds. (Eliot Spitzer resigned in 2008 after reporting he was a client of a prostitution ring.) If Cuomo stepped down, Hochul would automatically become governor and hold the post for the remainder of his third term, which expires at the end. the next. year.
Hochul, 62, may not be a household name like his boss, who said on Wednesday he would not resign. But in many ways, she’s been New York’s most visible elected official since taking her current post six years ago. She’s notorious for spending grueling hours cutting ribbons, campaigning for the low-vote Democrats, and cheering for upstate businesses.
The lieutenant governor has said little about the charges against the governor, accused of sexually harassing two former staff members. She released a statement saying “everyone deserves their voice to be heard and taken seriously” and that they support independent scrutiny.
Hochul’s style is radically different from Cuomo’s aggressive, hard-charged method of operation.
“She’s probably one of the most down-to-earth people you can meet,” said Assembly Member Karen McMahon, a Democrat whose district borders Hochul’s hometown of Buffalo. “She has reached great heights in government, but one on one she is so approachable and warm and just a very generous person… She is always able to help – especially women too.”
Hochul first gained attention outside of her base in western New York in 2007, when she was one of the most vocal opponents of Spitzer’s plan to allow unpretentious immigrants to ” get a driver’s license. She was the Erie County Clerk at the time and swore to have these candidates arrested.
She has since changed position. “I was an elected representative of the county of Erie and I represented the inhabitants of this district”, she said in 2018, referring to one of the most preserved areas of New York State. Yet this position and the “A” rating she received from the National Rifle Association as recently as 2012 suggest the political issues she will face if she effectively becomes governor and chooses to run for a full term. next year. The left wing of the Democratic Party never really trusted him.
State Democratic Committee member Emilia Decaudin, a progressive from Queens, said Hochul would not be among her top choices for governor. But she noted that most people had “only had pleasant interactions” with her and that she would be willing to give him a chance: “The idea of having someone nicer and not Cuomo made me feel better. pleases. ”
Hochul had the opportunity to gain top office through the misconduct of a politician about ten years ago. Republican Chris Lee has been arrested solicit women on Craigslist, where he described himself as a ‘chic and fun fit guy’ – he included a photo of himself, shirtless – and said he was a divorced lobbyist. He was married at the time and quit quickly.
Hochul entered a special election to succeed Lee and was not very lucky. The district had been a Republican stronghold from the time it was held by future GOP vice-president candidate Jack Kemp. But Hochul won the seat of a race that Democrats characterized as a referendum on House GOP’s plans to privatize Medicare.
His stay in Congress did not last long. The district became even more Republican after the 2012 redistribution, and she lost to Chris Collins, who would become the first outgoing congressman to endorse Donald Trump. He later resigned and pleaded guilty to securities fraud and received a pardon from Trump in the final days of his administration.
After a brief stint working in government relations for a bank, she was chosen by Cuomo to be his running mate when he ran for a second term in 2014. Hochul was seen as a play for more of votes in Erie County, which Cuomo lost in 2010..
“History shows that lieutenant governors are not chosen because they can step in to become governor, but because they check an electoral or political box,” said Bob Bellafiore, former journalist and assistant to Governor George Pataki .
Since becoming lieutenant governor, she is best known for her demanding travel schedule – she is the only New York politician besides Senator Chuck Schumer who is used to running in each of the 62 counties each year. of State. And she often checks the boxes twice.
She has at times been reprimanded for her dedication to visiting the state, often promoting Cuomo’s agenda. New York City public attorney Jumaane Williams made a strong demonstration against her in a 2018 Democratic primary by vowing to transform the office into one more active in independent policy making in the country. ‘State. But it is a role that she fiercely defended.
“I really don’t appreciate that the role I have taken on behalf of the people of New York is denigrated in such a way that it is just a decisive role,” she said in a debate. this year. “I’m sorry, when a ribbon is cut it means something good and new is happening. … I was able to cut ribbons at new factories in places like downtown Buffalo, which has been abandoned as lost and hopeless my whole life.
Last year, as Cuomo’s profile rose, Hochul stayed in the background. She was only included in one of the governor’s famous daily press briefings when New York City was at the center of the coronavirus outbreak in the country. But she’s conducted numerous radio interviews, and Cuomo, a notorious micro-director, has given her some responsibilities like dealing with companies in western New York. Her supporters are optimistic she can get into work from day one and handle the pandemic response.
“Kathy and I have talked a lot over the last year about getting resources, what we need in county government, especially early on when it was hard to get test kits and the like. . So she has been very involved… in discussing what we need in county government and how she can help as a lieutenant governor, ”said Erie County Director Mark recently. Poloncarz.
“She’s ready for any role she might have in state government,” he said. “I know she is more than capable of playing any role in New York State government, including governor.”
His rise as the chief executive of the state would set several milestones.
On the one hand, she would be the first governor outside New York or its most immediate suburb since Franklin Roosevelt. And she would be Buffalo’s first since Grover Cleveland.
“I think sometimes people here feel a little out of touch with the state government because it’s headquartered in Albany, and [it’s] perceived as so dominated by New York and the upstate, ”McMahon said. “If she somehow ended up in the Executive Mansion, I think everyone here would not only be proud, but I think I’m really relieved that someone is bringing their voice to our concerns.
And she would be the first woman.
“We’ve never had a female governor, we’ve never been able to make a candidate so popular,” said Barbara Bartoletti, former legislative director of the League of Women Voters of NYS.
“It would be an interesting way – and not uncommon in New York City,” she said, referring to the current scandals surrounding Cuomo. “Sooner or later we’re going to learn that women in government don’t do these things.”